Ear tipping sounds like something unnecessary and unwanted to many people, but it serves a valuable purpose. If you're hesitant to allow a feral cat to have its ears tipped or don't yet know what it means to do it, this quick guide will provide you with all you need to know about this procedure to prevent unneeded pet surgery.
What Is Ear Tipping?
Ear tipping is basically what it sounds like: a small incision is made in a cat's ear, either giving it a small notch or removing a small portion of the ear completely. This procedure is performed under full general anesthesia, so the cat doesn't feel any pain during the procedure. Clipped ears typically heal on their own and don't require additional care from you, so you don't need to worry about bringing a feral cat back in to have stitches removed or additional procedures performed.
Why Is it Done?
Most vets suggest clipping a feral cat's ear when they're spayed or neutered. This whole process is essentially used to alert caregivers and veterinary professionals that the cat has already been fixed.
It can be difficult to detect if a cat is spayed or neutered simply by looking at them, especially if the cat is female. Since notched ears are easily noticed, this resolves that problem. It can keep a kitty from undergoing unwanted surgery, anesthesia, or simply the stress of being captured and brought to a veterinarian's office for something they've already had done.
Are There Alternatives?
Ear tipping isn't the only way to keep a cat from undergoing unnecessary surgery, but it is one of the best ways. The main alternative is to put a very small tattoo-like ink mark on the cat's belly.
This ink mark is essentially a last resort to protect the cat from unwanted surgery. If a veterinarian or their assistant is shaving a cat to prep them for surgery and sees the mark, they'll know that the cat has already been spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, it can't keep a kitty from being brought in or put under anesthesia, so it's somewhat inferior to ear tipping.
Ear clipping doesn't cause any long-term problems for cats, and it can help to ensure that they're able to live out their lives in peace after being spayed or neutered. If you're working to trap and release the cats in your neighborhood, saying yes to ear tipping is something you should consider.